Chronic antidepressant treatment increases the membrane expression of AMPA receptors in rat hippocampus

Neuropharmacology. 2002 Dec;43(8):1230-7. doi: 10.1016/s0028-3908(02)00299-x.


It has been proposed that potentiation of AMPA receptor (AMPAR) function may be useful in the treatment of depression. Here we studied the acute and chronic effect of the antidepressants desipramine and paroxetine, which differentially affect monoamine reuptake, on the expression of the AMPAR subunits GluR1 and GluR2/3, analyzed by Western blot, both in total and in membrane-enriched extracts from rat hippocampus. Acute antidepressant treatment did not produce any change in the expression of AMPAR subunits. In chronic treatments, rats were daily treated with the antidepressants (10 mg/kg/day) for 7, 14, or 21 days. In rats receiving either of the two antidepressant treatments for 21 consecutive days and killed 24 h after the last injection, an increase in GluR1 and GluR2/3 levels was found in the membrane fraction, with no significant change in the total extract, suggesting a trafficking of the AMPAR subunits from intracellular pools to synaptic sites in the hippocampus. This appeared to be a region-specific effect since no change in AMPAR subunit expression was found in the frontal cortex. Previously reported modifications in phosphorylating enzymes by chronic antidepressants could perhaps play a role in hippocampal membrane insertion of AMPAR subunits. When the survival time after the 21-day-treatment was longer - 72 instead of 24 h - the hippocampal membrane expression of GluR1, but not of GluR2/3 subunits, was still increased, as could be expected from the distinct mechanisms operating in synaptic delivery of GluR1 and GluR2/3 subunits. The antidepressant-induced increase in the number of GluR1- and GluR2/3-containing AMPARs at the synapses may indicate an enhanced AMPAR-mediated synaptic transmission which could help to counteract the alterations in neuronal connectivity which appear to underlie the pathophysiology of mood disorders.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Cell Membrane / drug effects*
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Desipramine / pharmacology
  • Hippocampus / drug effects*
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Male
  • Paroxetine / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, AMPA / biosynthesis*


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Receptors, AMPA
  • Paroxetine
  • Desipramine